Arts for Transformation Professional Development
North Haiti Christian University
Fine Arts Department,
Haut Limbe, Haiti
Trainer: Amy Tuttle
1/13/14- 1/17/14

Final Report



BuildaBridge International presented the “Arts in Transformation” course at The North Haiti Christian University (UCNH) in Haut Limbe, Haiti from 1/13/14-1/17/14. The Limbe Valley is located approximately 15 kilometers to the west of Cap Haitien in North Haiti. The Limbe Valley is comprised of three cities: Haut Limbe (High Limbe, in the mountain range), Limbe (the biggest city of the three), and Bi Limbe (the valley, or low plains of Limbe, where the rice fields are).

The professional development course took place in Haut Limbe, a city of 63,000. Haut Limbe is a largely mountainous region. It is home to Mourn Fort, “Mount Strong,” a large mountain that separates Haut Limbe from the valley community that surrounds the ocean coast outside of Cap Haitien. The economy of Haut Limbe depends primarily on agriculture & farming. Also, many people have small businesses selling goods to the community. During the winter of 2013-2014 (the time of the Arts for Transformation Training), the Limbe Valley was experiencing a severe drought. November-February in Haiti is the “rainy season.” People depend on the rains for their crops, for drinking and household water, and to cool the temperature/provide seasonal relief. During the “rainy season,” it generally rains every day. This winter, however, it hardly rained. During the time of the training, it had been 8 weeks since the last rain. Many of the crops were seriously suffering. A lack of crops forces farmers and their families into buying food on credit, which encourages a cycle of debt that is very difficult to break. Residents of Limbe also had a difficult time getting water for their homes. Many were only able to get water during the middle of the night when the town pump comes on...and not enough water to meet their needs.


Haut Limbe is home to UCNH, one of the areas best schools. UCNH has been in existence since 1949. The school began as a seminary and in the 1990’s it evolved into a university, gaining accreditation in business and agriculture. UCNH started with 72 students and now has over 750 students enrolled. The university experienced a great increase in enrollment after the 2010 earthquake. The increase was due to the large population migration from Port-au-Prince to Northern Haiti. “Many young people were enrolling to the seminary, even though they didn’t have an interest in serving in a pastoral role” says Laurel Cassius, whose parents founded UCNH in 1949. “We learned that young people were applying out of a desire to advance their education after high school. Also, more college-aged students lived in the area after the earthquake and less students were able to travel to Port-au-Prince for school. So, we began the process of developing a university with a Business School and an agricultural school.

The campus of UCNH is beautiful. Home to many native plants and trees, it serves as a wonderful canvass. The background of mountains and blue sky make the campus environment both inspiring and peaceful. The campus has several acres of gardens and crops managed by the Agriculture School, an administrative building, chapel, cafeteria, amphitheater, several buildings for classrooms, dorms for students, houses for faculty and staff, and a guest house. It is a very hospitable environment.

Laurel Cassius developed the Fine Arts School at UCNH in 2003. With a BA in Piano and an MA in Global Leadership, Laurel has a deep love for the fine arts. She is confident in the vital role that the arts play in community transformation. She has been utilizing the arts in education for 40+ years and has many wonderful stories about the power of the arts to educate, inspire collaboration, and heal. Laurel first learned of BuildaBridge after to 2010 earthquake in Haiti. In 2010, BuildaBridge offered our “Arts in Healing” course at the university. The course had a great impact on the students who began to take their practice of fine arts into the community- using music to help children express themselves and experience healing. Four of the students who attended “Arts in Healing” returned for the “Arts for Transformation” training.

The “Arts for Transformation” course was offered as a 5-day intensive at the university from 1/13/14-1/17/14. Fine Arts students took the course for university credit and were required to complete a final project summary report and post-test. Their grades, determine by BuildaBridge Trainer: Amy Tuttle, are a reflection of their participation, final report, and post-test score. 22 of the participants were associated with UCNH.

Course participants also came from a local organization called ACRAL: Action Cytionne pour le rellevement et la vensement du Limbe (Citizens in Action for the Advancement of Limbe). ACRAL was created by former UCNH students in 2006. It is a community development organization dedicated to the beautification and renewal of Limbe, with a focus on children. ACRAL is a forward-thinking organization. Many of their projects are commuity-led and they serve without “religious barriers.” 7 participants came daily from Limbe/ACRAL to attend the course. They provided great examples for the course and they are eager to apply the BuildaBridge principles to their work.

Course Summary & Objectives

The “Arts for Transformation” course is designed to provide participants with an understanding of community arts and the role that the arts play in community transformation. Participants learn to: envision a project or program for transformation; define their artistic role in the process of change; create an asset-map of their community; complete a community needs assessment; and identify and address barriers to change. The following are the major learning objectives of the course:

Learning Objectives:
  • Introduce the role of arts in community development and education for children and youth and provide models of successful programs
  • Explain the roles of creative people in the process of community transformation and explore how creative people can help improve communities for the welfare of children
  • Present and practice a process that empowers community members to individually and collectively envision community transformation
  • Introduce asset-based development and explore creative methods to map community assets for children
  • Explain different ways to collect information about community needs to prepare to plan a child-focused community transformation project
  • Consider barriers to community change and strategies to overcome these barriers
This was a unique training opportunity because UCNH is so closely connected with the community of Haut Limbe. Participants were able to directly apply the skill and scenario based lessons of the course to the surrounding community. For example, the “Listening Project” is a community questionnaire designed to provided qualitative data on community needs. Generally, this activity is done within the class. Participants ask each other the survey questions for practice. In the January training, participants adapted the questions to the Haut Limbe community and canvassed the community. They interviewed 42 residents of Haut Limbe and gathered information on: what residents like best about Haut Limbe; the greatest needs for children in their community; and creative ways to address those needs. The results of this “Listening Project” informed the rest of the course, including Final Projects (community arts concepts created and presented to the class.)

Conclusion and Next Steps


Overall, the delivery of the “Arts for Transformation” course at UCNH was successful. 100% of participants expressed positive feedback regarding content, understanding of course concepts, and delivery. Also, 100% of participants asked for continued BuildaBridge training. Students regularly passed the trainer’s “checks for understanding,” exhibiting high proficiency and capacity to apply the concepts to their communities and work.

Below are course concepts that the participants interacted with for the first time:

  • Creative Placemaking Strategies 
  • BuildaBridge Model for Community Transformation:
  • Community interviewing to collect quantitative and qualitative data. (1 participant of 29 had conducted a community interview prior to the course). One of the final project groups identified “surveying the community to identify needs and interests” as the first step in their project planning phase. They learned, through the course, that it is a sustainable and well-developed project begins with the community and developing an accurate understanding of needs and assets.
  • Providing constructive peer feedback based on SWOT analysis (identifying the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) presented by each group. According to the Dean of the Fine Arts Department at UCNH, Laurel Cassius, constructive feedback is not a concept that the students have exercised. While the students found the concept difficult at first, they were able to quickly adapt their feedback to provide peers with useful ideas for moving forward. This is a concept that Cassius will be encouraging in her future classes and presenting to faculty members.
  • The definition of vernacular artist. Though the concept of untrained artists is very familiar, the vocabulary of “vernacular artist” was a new concept for the class.
  • Using drawing skills to create a visual arts-based “Vision for Community Transformation” was a first-time experience for 100% of the participants. All participants agreed that the exercise would be useful in their communities. Participants also brainstormed ways to engage the community in the same process via music/song writing as well.
  • Participants liked the concept of relational and people-based assets. They identified human resources are a major strength. Several participants declared a commitment to identify and prioritize human assets over economic assets (governmental resources and resources from NGO’s). Though they are willing to partner when necessary, many participants want to create programming that can be sustained by the community by utilizing internal assets. 
  • Participants learned to concept of community asset mapping very quickly. Several participants identified the strengths of the concept itself and plan to utilize asset-mapping in their work. 
  • The “problem tree” tool was very useful for participants. Differentiating between causes and effects helped participants to better understand the community needs that they were focusing on. This tool was also new concept for 100% of the class.
  • The idea of “scope” was new for the class, though they very quickly understood the concept. 
  • Also, participants responded well to BuildaBridge’s “Artist Pledge” and “Trainer’s Song.” 

  • Challenges for the Trainer, Amy Tuttle:

  • There was an assumption that the class would have the capacity to understand the course instructed in English. Five to six of the participants exhibited English competency. Three of the students were able to translate when needed. Most of the students can read written English, so the AIT books were still useful in English. Oral translation was needed very regularly. At times, it was unclear who would translate for the trainer. When available, the Dean of the Fine Arts Department at UCNH would translate. Her translation was very helpful, who often added her own anecdotes, stories, and ideas. Her ideas and stories provided great themes and context for the course. Though, at times, she “over-explained” or moved ahead of the trainer. This is commonly the case with excellent and fluent translators. The trainer was able to address these issues adequately, and the delivery of the course and comprehension of the participants did not seem to be effected by the issues.
  • There were daily electricity outages, particularly when the generator would turn off for a scheduled period. So, electric/visual presentation was not possible after 2pm. Sometimes, the class worked outside for the last 2-3 hours of training. There were many beautiful, comfortable, and feasible places outside, so this challenge also did not greatly effect the delivery of the course. The class also continued without lights and powerpoint presentation in the classroom. This type of challenge is to be expected in BuildaBridge trainings!

Notes on Final Project Presentations:

Participants were asked to work in groups to design and present an arts-based program concept to address an issue identified by the community during our community interviewing process. Their presentations and ideas were excellent. Some groups struggled with “scope of solution.” Their projects were attempting to solve too many issues and were too large to be realistic. Participants worked together to re-scale their ideas and create solutions that are attainable.

Most participants identified a need for a community center in Haut Limbe to teach leadership skills via community art to children and adults. In the community interview process, many Haut Limbe residents spoke about the lack of collective care for children in the community. Parents and neighbors often do not “watch out for children.” There is not a safe place for children to go when they are not in school, cannot afford school, or after school/weekends. There is a big need for leadership development, education, and projects that help children to focus on the future. It is common for Haitians to struggle with the concept of “future-orientation.” Many people are struggling for survival in the present, which compromises their ability to plan for the future and experience hope for development and “living the good life.” So, children need encouragement to look towards the future and to have “lespwa” (hope).

When asked “What do you like about your community?” a young man, age 11, that a group interviewed said: “Nothing. There is nothing that I like about my community.” The group pressed the young man to reconsider his answer, asking him to think about his family, home, church, etc. He still responded with “Nothing.” When asked what his biggest problems are, he said: “My family doesn’t have enough to eat, we are in famine. There isn’t a place for me to go. I am not in school.” He exhibited no signs of future-orientation or hope for his place. He did say that he would like Haut Limbe better if it had a Royal Palace like Port-au-Prince.

For the final project, four of the six groups strategized ways to work together to mobilize Haut Limbe assets to create a community center. In small groups, participants identified local assets, human resources, potential spaces, and creative arts strategies to provide a positive place for children to grow.

One group focused their final project on raising awareness via murals, drama, and music on the importance of water. They would like to mobilize a group of residents in a small neighborhood called “Paris” to utilize a water basin that is currently empty and unused so that the community can have better access to water. They described water as the foundation for life.

Another group created a program called “I am Enlightened.” They focused on the strategy of Creative Placemaking. Their mission is to provide residents of their target community with light bulbs and the capacity to install light bulbs. Their concept is based on the idea of light improving the perception of safety and quality of place. They will use their own arts-based resources to gain support and raise awareness. Ruben, one of the participants will design and hand-paint t-shirts for the group to wear and sell for awareness and fund raising.

Notes from participants on the “Arts for Transformation” course:

Participants found the following elements of the training most helpful and interesting:
  • Drawing “My World As It Is” and “My World As It Can Be.” 
  • Recording and collecting information via visual arts activities 
  • “Understanding my capacity to help people in my community through my arts practice.” 
  • “This course, Arts for Transformation, helps us to understand the process of community transformation.” 
  • Barriers to Change 
  • Overcoming Barriers to Change 
  • Creating realistic solutions to barriers
  • “This information will help me in my community as well as in my family. The theories apply to barriers in my own home as well.” 
  • “This course offers transformation of self and community. I am inspired and have found my way forward, my steps into the future. I am transformed.” -Jude Dorelus 
  • “This course has taught me to believe in my self and develop a social practice of my art form.”
  • Creative placemaking as a community arts strategy- transforming space into place

  • Participants would like to learn more about:
Program development
Writing a program/project proposal
Creative arts strategies to improving “quality of life”
Hands-on visual arts skills such as painting, drawing, and mosaic art. (UCNH focuses primarily on music and vocal education). One participant suggested including evening sessions that are skill-based arts activities.

Next Steps:

Participants are interested in more information regarding future participation in BuildaBridge Institute, Restorative Arts Certification, and courses.

Participants would like a badge of completion for the course so that they have proof of participation for future employment opportunities.

There are some technology limitations at UCNH. The campus does not have wireless internet. However, several of the residential spaces on campus do provide internet access. So, all students have the capacity to access online courses if given enough time. 60% of participants had smart phones with internet access. Only 3 participants have laptop computers.

UCNH Fine Arts students took this course for university credit. They will have the capacity to send a 5-10 page Final Project Reports to the trainer, Amy Tuttle, via email. Also, students will be able to complete an “Arts for Transformation” post-test. Students have until February 18th to complete these assignments. These assignments, as well as participation and attendance, will comprise the student’s grade for the course.


Lyrics to songs written by participants:

Since most of the participants are studying music composition, the trainer offered the opportunity for students to write, demonstrate, and teach the class songs based on principles of the course. After demonstrating an “Opening Ritual” on Monday & Tuesday of the course, the trainer offered the opportunity on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and for the final celebration on Friday afternoon. Below are the lyrics for the songs written by participants. Videos are available of the demonstration, instruction, performance, and interpretation of each song.

Remulus Jonathon Junior’s Opening Song:

A: Wi nou gen espwa
Yon gou tout bagay ka change
Si nou tout ta mache nan limite

A(1): Nou pa dwe kite von divizyo
Fen sepere
Paske’n bezwen kominte’n devlope

B: Ann parete chita ap kalkile
Se moman pou’n demane

A(1): Nou pa dwe kite von divizyo
Fen sepere
Paske’n bezwen kominte’n devlope


We have hope for our generation
They will all believe in change
If we move forward, without limitations

When we are divided,
Fences seperate
We need to believe we can develop our community

Sit and calculate
Move towards tomorrow

Jude Dorelus’s Opening Song:

Timoun jodi
Granmoun demen
Ann kore yo pou lespwa fleri
Nap ede yo
Ankadre yo
Pou kominote n’ka devlope

Nemn jan yon pyebwa bezwen wouze
Konsa timoun bezwen edike


Young today
Old tomorrow
We work for hope to flourish
We help each other
We consider each other
So that the community can develop

We know what the people need
We know that the youth need education
Eugene Jean-Kinsley’s Song:

Voye siren
Bou ji te limen
Gren yo simen, oh!

Jounen opre jounen
Timoun yo ke kontan, oh!

Wi n’ap travay, oh!
Wi n’ap travay, oh!
Jouk timoun gon’ demen (x 4)


Overnight, the farmers are working, planting the seeds for tomorrow. They plant to that children have a future. We work together, we work together, so that children have a future.

Final Project instructions in Kreyol

Denye Pwojè
Dekri kominote ak popilasyon ou sible 
Ekri non atis ki nan kominote a, epi mete wòl ou panse yo ka genyen nan pwojè ou
Dekri vizyon ou baze sou “Monn mwen jan li ka ye” (sèvi kapasite ak talan kreyatif ou pou fè sa)
Defini asèt ak atou ki deja egziste nan kominote ou
Dekri bezwen ou pral adrese
Dekri baryè ki ka anpeche chanjman
Dekri pwojè ou:
     Deklarasyon “misyon” pwojè a genyen
     Objektif pwojè
     Ide ou genyen pou komanse pwoje a

Amy Tuttle’s Blog Posts from Training:

Blog #1

Today, the Arts for Transformation course began at UCNH in Limbe, Haiti. We spent the day exploring the theoretical, practical, and abstract applications of community arts. We focused on four community arts strategies: creative placemaking, creative programs, creative community development, and creative economic development. The participants, very bright students and community arts practitioners, were immediately able to interact with the concepts on an advanced level, providing excellent examples, questions, and definitions. The participants took a particular interest in creative placemaking, and we began an engaging conversation on how to apply creative ideas to move a neglected or negative space into a healthy, thriving, cultural place.

One student asked the following question: "How do you go about transforming a space into a place, infusing it with meaning and cultural activities, when it has a strong spiritual curse over it?" What a challenging and difficult question to answer! There are many religious and cultural intricacies involved in the question. It could be interpreted in a number of ways depending on the experience and worldview of the interpreter. However, this question brings up a point that we don’t often discuss or face directly in the world of creative placemaking: the spiritual nature of place.

Places are infused with meaning and history which defines the way that those places are used by the community. Places have the capacity to carry a sacred energy. They can uplift a community, serve in a spiritual or religious role, encourage connection/community-building/dialogue. Places can also have a very negative connotation, spiritual energy, and/or history. The participant was referring to a complex history of voodoo and spiritism in Haiti. Many believe that certain spaces have been cursed and that developing such places will be very, very difficult and involve spiritual warfare. There are many stories of challenge from this community regarding place and spirit.

So, as a class we began to discuss “barriers to change” with the identification of spiritual barriers within places. It’s a conversation that will continue throughout the week, especially on Thursday when we discuss barriers and ways to overcome them.

Some important points for the class to consider are:

1.) What are the consequences of building within or over a space that has negative connotation or negative spiritual energy?

2.) Who has the power within the place? If the community wants to use the place as a healthy, creative, and healing place, how will they claim the power to do so?

3.) What rituals exist to cleanse a space? How can the arts play a role in cleansing the nature of a space?

4.) What role does future-orientation and creating a vision for a place play in this scenario?

5.) How can we create places that are inclusive? Is there a way to include multiple world views and perspectives on spirituality within the same place?

Blog # 2: What is an artist?

We spent the morning defining the role of artists and creative people in our community. In small groups, we explored the nature of the artist. We explored questions such as: How does an artist influence their community? What power does an artist have? What does it mean to be creative? Who is creative? Each group was asked to prepare a short presentation defining the role of creative people in community transformation. The thoughts presented were brilliant and inspiring. Here are a few:

“Artists have the capacity to do things very well. Their capacity to create beauty in an excellent way is transformative. They create art that the community is proud of.”

“Creative people have the capacity to touch and see aspects of the world that are abstract. They can create and work within metaphor.”

“Through technique and practice, creators make objects that represent and influence culture. These creations come from the imagination.”

“Artists can create symbols and visions for the future of a place that help to keep the community inspired to work harder.”
“Creative people can reinvigorate and transform their communities.”

“Artist can combine the concrete and abstract to reflect the world and what is happening in the world. In turn the world becomes the reflection of the artists in it.”

“As messengers and translators, artists have the capacity to create a model for healthy communities.”

The class was able to identify the various roles that creative people can play in raising awareness, catalyzing change, celebrating success, and moving towards renewed communities!

They were also able to identify the roles that the currently play and that they will play in the future in community transformation. This conversation will be very helpful as we move towards conceptualizing community projects to address needs via the arts.

My World

Problem Tree Analysis in Jacmel

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